The fact that Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets down to Panic! at the Disco has been clear for a while. In an act that's catapulted everyone's favorite flashy, middle school-era radio emo band to unexpected political relevance, the presidential hopeful walks on stage at every appearance to their 2018 hit "High Hopes." With lyrics like "Be something greater / Go make a legacy / Manifest destiny," it's a little cheesy and on-the-nose, but sure! Uplifting!
Described by the New York Times as a mix of "uplifting rock and zippy soul tempered with wistful country," Buttigieg's campaign soundtrack is milquetoast and more than a little corny—but, to be fair, so is the man himself. While we didn't think it could get cornier than the mental image of Mayor Pete hamming it up to Estelle's "American Boy" or Shea Diamond's "American Pie" (whew, man, we get it), his rolled up-sleeved arms pumping upwards toward the sky and a cartoonish grin on his face.
But we hadn't seen the "High Hopes Dance."
Yesterday afternoon, Buttigieg campaign staffer Liz McLeod posted a behind-the-scenes video from this weekend's New Hampshire "Pete Summit" on Twitter. In it, a room full of Buttigieg supporters performs what's called the "High Hopes Dance," according to a projector screen behind the stage. Unlike the involved choreography that's more common when you search the phrase on YouTube, the Buttigieg campaign version is basically a mix of pushing downward, pumping upward, and twisting hand motions; were it not done with such verve, one might also refer to these movements as "flailing."
Alas, not even the youths have been spared. In another video from this weekend, a younger group of Mayor Pete fans does the "High Hopes Dance." This time, they dance outside as they hoot and hold signs that say "Pete for Iowa" and "Boot Edge Edge." The video exudes big college R.A. energy.
Look, we didn't all grow up on Panic! at the Disco, and therefore, we might not all find this bizarre usage of Panic! at the Disco as mindbogglingly cringeworthy (a big claim, yes, given that this band is fundamentally cringeworthy). For those of us who have some attachment to Brendan Urie and his vocal stylings, the "High Hopes" dance is basically Emo Night, nightmare edition: like the chirpy, overachieving lovechild that would result if the beer- and nostalgia-soaked listening nights met the church youth group.
But even if you have no thoughts on Panic! at the Disco whatsoever, these videos should make your skin crawl with schadenfreude. If, just 15 years ago, an awkward yell became Howard Dean's downfall, how is this hellish and embarrassing dance not Buttigieg's?
That said, everyone appears to be having a good time in the name of Mayor Pete, and you can't really fault them for that. But please, when we said "emo revival," this is not exactly what we meant.